by Craig Harding
on July 7, 2011
Among the delights of summer, picnics to the woods.
– George Brandes
Emily Moon River Lodge in Plettenberg Bay is one of Rhino Africa’s favourite hotels on South Africa’s Garden Route, totally worth the visit. Recently a little piece of Emily Moon made its way to Cape Town and now, if you’re in the city, you can experience the gastronomic flair of Chef Larry Steenkamp, formerly of Emily Moon Restaurant, at The Woodlands Eatery! Larry and his wife Sarah packed their bags and left the coastal town of Plett to follow their dream and open a place of their own in Cape Town. Larry’s experience and love of good food combined with Sarah’s artistic flair make The Woodlands Eatery an eclectic experience tantalising to the taste buds, nourishing for the soul and pleasing to the eye.
Cape Town’s city bowl has no shortage of restaurants (as you’d know if you make The Horny Grazer regular reading), but what makes The Woodlands Eatery an oak among the ferns is the fantastic décor, simple tasty food made with great fresh ingredients and the chilled vibe lacking from many of the posher foodie spots. At The Woodlands Eatery you just feel at home, whether it’s the collection of antique chairs, quirky lampshades and picture frames or simply the fun and always smiling staff, I’m not sure. In my case it could simply be that Woodlands is within walking distance of my home! In fact MannaBay another favourite hotel which shares the same quirkiness so prominent at Woodlands is also only a stone throw away so you can happily sink several glasses of Darling Brew (a locally produced micro-brewery beer available on tap) without fear of the drive home.
The menu at Woodlands changes every so often, so when you go you may tuck into something totally different from when I was in attendance, but Larry’s experimental cooking sure doesn’t lack flavour and always features great ingredients. Fortunately for us eaters, Larry is one of those who believes the quality of the ingredients shines through in the dish, and he’s right! You can expect an array of wood-fired pizza, some old favourites done The Woodlands Eatery way and perhaps one or two things you’ve never tasted before. I smashed the delicious slow-cooked Tuscan lamb pizza into my face and washed it down with several tasty beers. My dinner buddies gorged on Larry’s signature beef burger (a towering thing difficult to eat only because of its leaning tower of Pisa construction) and another made the ‘mistake’ of ordering the salt and pepper squid (a mistake only because it’s much easier to lean across the table and steal a tasty morsel from this plate than tug a piece from the burger – that’s a Jenga-like affair).
Final verdict; Tasty food at a reasonable price, but don’t expect Michelin-rated meals. Great atmosphere and lovely setting in the Deer Park area of Vredehoek, friendly staff and a cozy homely feel that you’ll fall in love with. Expect to pay around R35-R55 for a starter and mains in the region of R65-R90. Bookings essential as it fills up fast, trust me I tried and failed only yesterday, but that said Larry and Sarah are very accommodating and will seat you at the bar if you’re prepared to wait, drooling as the dishes float by…
The Woodlands Eatery
6 Deer Park Avenue West
+27 (0) 21 801 5799